Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bad Blood, Good Times


First of all, I'd like to thank both the White Sox and Cubs for engaging in fisticuffs on the same day Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth with his 714th home run. Perfect timing, fellas. I mean it. Sadly, it wasn't enough to completely stop the national media from fellating Bonds (something the earth colliding with the moon probably couldn't prevent), but it did distract from it, if only slightly. Hey, at this point, everything helps.

Here's hoping Bonds hits his 715th quickly so he can forever disappear into the muck where fallen idols fade away, because he isn't passing Hank Aaron. No way.

Anyway, it's safe to say that the Sox-Cubs rivalry will never be the same after the A.J. Pierzynski-Michael Barrett free for all, and here's guessing it changes for the better in a bad, bad way. Make sense? What I mean is that it will now be a genuine conflict of passion with real hatred, animosity, and venom. People are pissed. Fans, players, everyone. Which can only be good. In the past, the rivalry was mainly amongst fans. Sox fans hate the Cubs and their arrogant, alarmingly clueless followers, Cubs fans hate the Sox and their following of pure class and grace, and nothing in life is more simple.

That said, the rivalry among the players and coaches has never been anything to get all that excited about. All it ever produced, really, was the standard quotes about how the Crosstown Classic is awesome but no more important than any other games and both teams will try their damndest to win and the fans should enjoy themselves. Blah, blah, blah. Boring. Neither team talked trash, threw at anybody's head or dared employ Pierzynski. Hell, there seemed to be a - gasp - mutual respect between the two clubs.

Respect? Hogwash! What fun is that?

Well, no more. The moment both dugouts cleared on Saturday was the exact moment the rivalry jumped to a new level. Now there is bad blood. Now there is history. Now there is no going back. Ever.

And the Unknown Column, for one, is all for it. Now we get quotes like this Ozzie gem on Rich Hill: "Tell that Triple-A fuck to shut the fuck up. Tell him to start throwing some strikes or he's going to get Dusty fired."

More please.

I already loved interleague play, despite the bashing it takes. Granted, I'd cut it back and limit it to series that provide natural rivalries (i.e., Sox-Cubs, Yankees-Mets, Giants-A's, etc.), but I find the two Crosstown Classic weekends to be two of the most ejoyable sports events on the calender. Period. The thought of the Sox and Cubs players truly disliking each other with a passion only makes it better.

If there is one thing both sides of town can agree on, it's that brawls have at times served to solidify teams. The Cubs can hope that is the case following Sunday when they played their best game in a while. Of course, any game the Cubs manage to score two runs in is considered a good showing. Yeah, they're that bad. At this point, my guess would be the baseball gods took pity on them for one day.

Sure, the Cubs bounced back from the savage, thorough embarrassment they suffered on Friday and Saturday to salvage a 7-4 win in the series finale, but, to be fair, the win was as much the result of the Sox fucking up as the the Cubs being all that good. Three errors from an uncharacteristically shaky Sox defense - most notably from Juan Uribe - squandered what had been a splendid return to the mound by Jose Contreras. Uribe's error in the eighth on a would-be inning-ending double play opened the doors for a four-run frame, and worse, allowed Barrett to make some amends for his childish antics the day before by belting a triple. That was a particularly tough pill to swallow and should have never have been allowed to happen. (That said, Pierzynski responded as well with a home run and a single. Dude showed up strong the day after the melee and nothing less would be expected.)

Jaque Jones had a two-run homer. Between his time with the Twins and now this, I've seen enough of that dude.

Naturally, notorios hothead Carlos Zambrano was unable to get through the game without engaging in pure madness. Following Pierzynski's home run, Zambrano immediately began signalling to anyone in his general vicinity that he was pissed as hell, crazy, and about to bean someone. And he meant it. I have to admit, this was freakin' hysterical. Umps and coaches all over the place and Zambrano being talked down from doing something stupid as if he was on a ledge. Hysterical.

Whatever. Bottom line? The Pale Hose took the series. One series at a time. Forever.

Contreras pitched well. Naturally, he looked a little shakier than before his short DL stint, but he pitched well. This is important. And I'll tell you what, if the Sox were going to unleash the 1906 duds, which they did, Contreras was the dude to have on the mound. In those old, old, old school uniforms, Contreras, and also Jim Thome, totally fit the bill of some ancient ballplayer in a black and white photo.

Quick shout out to Oak Lawn native Rob Mackowiak, who grew up a Sox fan and got to start in center field on the South Side on Sunday in a Crosstown Classic. That must have been awesome for him. He hit an RBI-double in the eighth.

Incidentally, Hawk Harrelson was absent from the Saturday Afternoon Fights telecast because the game was on FOX. Too bad. I would have payed to hear him call that spectacle. Hawk did manage to call out Jay Moronatti for his latest pile of drivel during Sunday's game. Nailed Moronatti for the doofus he is to a T, as usual. That's always fun. Hawk should do that more often.

All in all, it was a fun and interesting series, so in the name of Pierzynski, Cheers! (I love how Ozzie's kid is lurking in the background of this photo...)

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